Zanaflex vs Flexeril – Which Is Better For Fibromyalgia?


It is the brand name of a drug called tizanidine, a short-acting muscle relaxer that works by blocking nerve impulses that are sent to the brain.


It is typically used to treat muscle spasms caused by ALS (also known as motor neuron disease), multiple sclerosis (a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord), or spinal cord injury.

In addition, it is prescribed off-label for symptoms of fibromyalgia (not for long-term treatment), specific headache disorders, and as a sleep aid.

Note – fibromyalgia affects over 11 million Americans and around 5 percent of the world population


The usual recommended dosage is 12 mg to 24 mg, given up to 3 times per day. The maximum recommended dose is 36 mg in 24 hours, and the maximum single dose is 16 mg. Peak effects occur in about 1 to 2 hours and last for an estimated 3 to 6 hours.

Side Effects and Precautions Of Tizanidine

Common side effects may include:

  • feeling nervous;
  • weakness;
  • flu-like symptoms;
  • dizziness;
  • drowsiness;
  • abnormal liver function tests;
  • blurred vision;
  • trouble speaking;
  • uncontrolled muscle movements;
  • urination problems;
  • dry mouth;
  • constipation;
  • vomiting;
  • a sore throat;
  • a runny nose.

Rare side effects may include:

  • hallucinations;
  • a feeling like you might pass out;
  • confusion;
  • shallow breathing;
  • pain when you urinate.


Since there are no adequate studies on pregnant women, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medication if you are pregnant. Also, if you are breastfeeding a baby, avoid this medication since it passes into breast milk and may harm the infant.


It is the brand name of a drug called cyclobenzaprine, a drug that belongs to a class of medications called muscle relaxants. It works by preventing muscle spasms without affecting overall muscle function and control.


It is typically used to relax muscles and relieve discomfort and pain caused by muscle injuries. It is sometimes recommended to reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia.


The usual recommended dose is 5 mg three times per day. This dose may be increased to 10 mg three times per day.

Side Effects And Precautions Of Cyclobenzaprine

Common side effects may include:

  • blurred vision;
  • dry throat;
  • nausea;
  • dry mouth;
  • gas;
  • tired feeling;
  • constipation;
  • dizziness;
  • diarrhea;
  • drowsiness;
  • muscle weakness;
  • stomach pain;
  • loss of appetite.

Rare side effects may include:

  • uneven heartbeats;
  • sudden numbness, particularly on one side of the body;
  • pounding heartbeat;
  • fainting;
  • pain spreading to the shoulder;
  • feeling light-headed;
  • sudden headaches;
  • lack of coordination;
  • problems with speech, vision, or balance;
  • seizure (convulsions);
  • general ill feeling;
  • hallucinations (seeing things);
  • loss of appetite;
  • unusual weakness;
  • easy bruising;
  • unusual thoughts;
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes;
  • clay-colored stools.

Drug Interactions

This medication may negatively interact with other drugs. Therefore, tell your healthcare professional if you are using:

  • alcohol;
  • tramadol (a drug used to treat moderate to severe pain in adults);
  • meperidine (a synthetic opioid pain medication of the phenylpiperidine class);
  • guanethidine (an antihypertensive drug that reduces the release of catecholamines);
  • bupropion (an antidepressant drug that affects chemicals within the brain nerves);
  • anticholinergic drugs, including – tiotropium (Spiriva) or ipratropium (Atrovent);
  • tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), like – clomipramine (Anafranil) or amitriptyline (Elavil);
  • serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), like – duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor);
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like – sertraline (Zoloft) and fluoxetine (Prozac);
  • barbiturates (a drug that acts as a central nervous system depressant), like –  phenobarbital (Donnatal);
  • monoamine oxides (MAO) inhibitors, like – phenelzine (Nardil) and selegiline (Emsam).


To avoid unnecessary side effects, do not intake alcohol while taking this medication.

Zanaflex vs Flexeril – Which Is Better For Fibromyalgia?

Categorized as a chronic disorder, this condition creates magnified painful sensations throughout the human body by affecting the way the brain processes pain signals. However, some experts believe it to be a purely psychosomatic disorder – a product of the mind, while other doctors believe that this condition stems from genetic defects.

According to a June 2000 study, Zanaflex appears to be effective in reducing fatigue and pain, also reducing the number of painful tender points, and improving sleep and overall functioning in some people with fibromyalgia. The usual starting dose is 2 mg per day that can be increased to 4 mg per day after 5 days. The dose can be increased further as tolerated. Nevertheless, most sufferers remained at 4 mg or 8 mg per day, and the highest dosage used was 12 mg per day.

According to a 2011 double-blind study of 36 patients with this condition, fifty percent of the patients were given Flexeril (the initial dose was 1 mg and it was increased to 4 mg per day). The other patients received a placebo. After 2 months, people taking a placebo did not improve, but patients taking cyclobenzaprine experienced a positive difference with very few major side effects.

The main problem is that these drugs can cause side effects, mainly when used as a long-term treatment.

6 Home Remedies For Fibromyalgia

#1 Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that help decrease inflammation and neuropathic pain. In addition, these gats can reduce joint stiffness and pain. The best sources of omega 3 fatty acids include – flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, broccoli, red kidney beans, and almonds.

#2 Acupuncture

Acupuncture, a type of Chinese traditional medicine where specialists insert small needles into specific points of the human body, could relieve the discomfort and pain of fibromyalgia in some people.

#3 Sleep

Getting sufficient sleep is important for managing the symptoms of this condition because being well-rested helps to combat the fatigue which is strongly associated with fibromyalgia. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Also, go to bed around 10 PM.

#4 Physical Exercise

Taking part in a regular physical activity has been found to be effective in reducing the symptoms of this condition because it restores the human body’s neurochemical balance which improves the levels of pain-fighting chemicals. The minimum recommended physical activity is 90 minutes of walking per day.

#5 Reduce Yours Stress Levels

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to help some people with this condition cope with the side effects of anxiety, depression, and stress.

#6 Magnesium

This condition has been linked to a mineral deficiency, especially magnesium since this mineral helps relax the muscles and nerves.

The best sources of magnesium include – rice bran, flax seeds, peanuts, Brazil nuts, red kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, navy beans, pinto beans, broccoli, spirulina, mung beans, radishes, carrots, cashew nuts, and pine nuts.

Image credit – Shutterstock

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